Craniosacral Fascial Therapy, also known as the Gillespie Approach.
Craniosacral Fascial Therapy, also known as the Gillespie Approach, is the work of Dr. Barry Gillespie. CFT originates from cranial osteopathic and myofascial release principles, as well as Dr. Gillespie’s background as a periodontist and headache/TMJ specialist.
Dr. Viola Frymann was a prominent osteopathic physician. She was renowned for her expertise in the field of cranial osteopathy, learning directly from Dr. William Sutherland, the discoverer of cranial motion. She mentored Dr. Gillespie in the 1970’s and provided a strong foundation for his understanding of cranial work and its therapeutic applications.
In addition to cranial osteopathy, Dr. Gillespie incorporated the principles of myofascial release into his approach after working closely with John Barnes, PT for about 10 years in the 1980’s. John Barnes' teachings and collaboration greatly influenced Dr. Gillespie's understanding of our intricate fascial network within. By combining techniques from two great therapies, Dr. Gillespie developed Craniosacral Fascial Therapy based on the theory that the craniosacral and fascial systems are not separate, but one interconnected system.
Craniosacral Fascial Therapy acknowledges that the human body possesses a remarkable ability to heal itself. By releasing restrictions and facilitating the body's natural rhythms, this therapy allows for self-correction and self-regulation. It encourages a state of deep relaxation, supporting the body's innate healing capacity.
As a little girl, Brittany loved to dance. She used to choreograph routines and put on shows for her family. To her, dance felt natural, fun, freeing. She didn’t know it then, but that was the start of her admiration for the physical body and the intuition that moved it.
Brittany began her study of the human body at SUNY Potsdam where she earned a Bachelor of Science in biology & minor in community health. She then went on to study nursing at Johns Hopkins University where she graduated with an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2015.
In nursing school, Brittany began practicing yoga and had the opportunity to become certified in reiki healing. In hindsight, this planted the seed that would later grow into a whole new way of perceiving health & wellness.
Brittany worked as a bedside nurse on a busy critical care unit as well as outpatient surgery for 5+ years. While this time spent in the world of Western medicine deepened her understanding of the body from an anatomical, physiological, and pathological standpoint, it also nudged her to consider a more holistic approach to healthcare.
“Western medicine is really good at saving our lives. It can get us through a crisis, help us manage our symptoms, and get us back on our feet again. However, I was becoming more and more interested in "alternative" medicine and holistic wellness. I was feeling a desire to make a shift.”
Like all of us, Brittany has also experienced her own health struggles. Her wellness journey divinely landed her in the world of fascia, bodywork, and mind-body medicine. After some profound experiences and feeling the benefits, she knew she needed to explore this world further.
Brittany became certified in craniosacral fascial therapy in April 2023 and is honored to share this therapy with our community. “The fascia research is exciting. It gives us scientific backing, but at the end of the day, our goal is simply to let the body know it’s safe. We do this by tuning in energetically with gentle touch and holding space for the body to show us what it needs to do. Once the body feels safe enough to let its defenses down, tensions begin to melt away and deeper healing can occur. The process is really beautiful and fun!"
The craniosacral system includes the structures of the brain, spinal cord, and sacrum that gently pump cerebrospinal fluid - the fluid that nourishes and detoxifies our central nervous system and has been found to flow out into the fascia of the body. The brain has an inherent motion that expands and contracts. Craniosacral structures will experience subtle motion in response to this “primary respiration” or breathing brain.
Fascia is a continuous layered web of connective tissue that surrounds, supports, and interconnects all structures of the body and brain. It is made up of collagen tubules surrounded by gel-like ground substance that provides fluidity and glide for optimal mobility and function of tissue. The craniosacral system lies within and is connected to the fascial web. Physical trauma, inflammation, poor posture, repetitive movements, and emotional stress can all cause the fascia to become restricted or tight. These restrictions can occur within the craniosacral system itself or may originate from other areas of the body but influence the craniosacral system. Fascial restrictions can cause tension, compression, or imbalances within the craniosacral system, affecting the movement of cranial bones, membranes, and the flow of CSF.
Craniosacral Fascial Therapy has shown to be beneficial for a wide range of conditions, including headaches, migraines, chronic pain, stress-related disorders, birth trauma, TMJ disorders, sleep issues, and many others. It is a versatile therapy that addresses underlying structural imbalances that may be contributing to these conditions.
During a session, clients often experience a sense of deep relaxation and gentle, subtle movements within their body. The therapy is typically performed with the client lying fully clothed on a treatment table.
Here's what a CFT session may feel like for the client:
Gentle Touch: The therapist will use light touch to assess and facilitate release of strain within the craniosacral fascial system. The touch is generally gentle, and the therapist's hands may rest lightly on different areas of the body, including the head, spine, sacrum, and other relevant regions.
Deep Relaxation: Clients often describe feeling deeply relaxed during a CFT session. The calming nature of the therapy promotes a state of tranquility, allowing the body to enter a state of profound rest and restoration.
Subtle Sensations: As the therapist works with the craniosacral system and fascial tissues, clients may experience subtle sensations within their body. These sensations can vary from session to session and from person to person but often include gentle movements, warmth, or pulsations. Some clients may also experience a release of tension or a sense of fluidity within their body.
Emotional Release: CFT can sometimes evoke emotional responses as the therapy works holistically on physical, emotional, and energetic levels. Clients may experience feelings of relaxation, relief, or even the release of stored emotions. This emotional release is a natural part of the healing process.
Overall Well-being: Many clients report feeling a sense of improved well-being following a CFT session. They may experience reduced pain or discomfort, increased mobility, enhanced relaxation, and a greater sense of balance within their body.
It's important to note that each individual's experience is unique and responses vary. The therapist will always prioritize the client's comfort and adjust the treatment accordingly. Overall, a CFT session offers a gentle approach that aims to support the body's innate healing capacity. It provides a nurturing space for deep relaxation, subtle movements, and the potential for positive shifts in physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
The number of sessions needed can vary depending on the individual, their history, and goals. Some people experience significant improvement after just a few sessions, while others may benefit from ongoing or periodic maintenance sessions. Your therapist will discuss a personalized treatment plan based on your unique situation and goals.
Craniosacral Fascial Therapy is generally considered safe. The therapy is gentle and should not cause any significant discomfort. Occasionally, individuals may experience temporary sensations or emotional releases during or after a session, which are part of the healing process. It is important to communicate with your therapist throughout the session to ensure your comfort and well-being.
Absolutely! Craniosacral Fascial Therapy can complement other holistic therapies, medical treatments, and wellness practices. It works synergistically with other modalities to support the body's natural healing abilities and optimize overall well-being. It is always recommended to inform your healthcare providers about all the treatments you are receiving for better coordination of your care.
Absolutely! Craniosacral Fascial Therapy is not solely limited to addressing existing conditions. It can be used proactively to promote overall wellness, prevent potential imbalances, and optimize the body's functioning. By releasing restrictions in the craniosacral system and fascial network, the therapy supports the body's natural healing mechanisms, enhances resilience, and helps maintain a state of balance and well-being. Regular sessions can help address subtle dysfunctions before they manifest as more significant issues, allowing for a proactive approach to holistic health.
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